Crime and Madness in Psychiatry

Dr. Romero Comella is a recognized specialist in Psychiatry with a long trajectory of excellence in the treatment of his patients.

Unfortunately, in the media we find news that tell us in great detail about criminal acts. When we learn of them, we are repulsed and do not believe that anyone in their “right mind” would be capable of committing these atrocities.

In a gathering of friends, when a crime is discussed, it is easy to hear comments such as “no one in their right mind is capable of doing something like this, you have to be sick to do this”.

Therefore, insanity, mental illness, is being attributed to the origin of acts that we find difficult to understand in “normal” people because of the terrible nature of the act and its consequences.

The relationship between jurists and psychiatrists

From the legal side, psychiatrists are often asked to assess people who have committed crimes. For jurists, the important thing is to know if the person’s knowledge and/or will are altered. That is, if they knew what they were doing and if they had no other alternative when they committed the crime.

From the legal psychiatric point of view, the illness and its relation to the act is evaluated. There must be a nexus between the crime and the illness, a causal relationship between the mental state and the illicit act committed. For example, someone who believes he is being persecuted by his neighbor and assaults him.

See also  Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Difficult and complex examples

It is true that when a mentally ill person commits a crime, it can be very spectacular, bizarre and unexpected, causing social alarm and numerous front pages and press articles. For example, driving a stake through the heart of a relative because he thought he was the evil one.

However, the crime rate of the mentally ill is practically the same as that of the general population. The vast majority of crimes are not mediated by mental illness. The origin is in human passions, in hatred, revenge, money, power, envy, jealousy…

This is hard for us to accept, evil exists among the human species. It is much easier to attribute many crimes to insanity or mental illness, so we remain more calm.